After getting a solid start from the much-maligned A.J. Burnett last night the Yankees have to be feeling pretty good about their chances of winning Game 5, as they’ll turn to rookie Ivan Nova against Doug Fister and the Tigers.
Nova was technically a reliever in Game 1, “starting” the suspended game and pitching 6.1 innings of two-run ball for the victory.
He came on in relief of CC Sabathia then, but now Sabathia is the one who’ll be an option out of the bullpen in Game 5, telling Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York that “I’m definitely available.”
Whether he’ll actually be needed is unclear, because having today off allows the Yankees’ bullpen to rest up and the Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano trio should be ready to go for an inning or two each. If the Yankees turn to Sabathia it probably means Nova had a short start or the game is in extra innings, as Detroit’s lack of dangerous left-handed hitters makes using him as a specialist unlikely.
Plus, with a rough outing in Game 3 and a 4.78 ERA in 15 career postseason starts Sabathia hasn’t exactly made a strong case for being trusted out of the bullpen.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.